The world’s oldest classic lived up to its illustrious history at Doncaster today as a classy field was led home in a pulsating renewal by the Irish Derby winner Capri.
Capri started 3/1 favourite on the back of his Derby success at the Curragh, he’d beaten Cracksman there and that horse had gone on to frank the form since. But he’d been off since then and there were plenty who thought that improving horses such as Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius would be able to give him a race, and so it proved.
The winner’s stable companion The Anvil set off at a strong pace and had soon built a lengthy lead as trainer Aidan O’Brien tried to ensure a robust pace was set for Capri, a son of Galileo who is a strong stamina influence. Capri was settled in fourth place and as they turned for home the pacemaker came back to the field and the big guns lined up to challenge.
Ryan Moore didn’t hang about on Capri, sending him to the front two out, travelling strongly. But those behind were also beginning to get serious and as they approached the final furlong Crystal Ocean appeared alongside Capri on one side while Stradivarius ranged up on the other. But Capri had no intention of stopping or being passed and he galloped on while the other pair wilted and he asserted again close home to win by half a length with the Sir Michael Stoute trained Crystal Ocean in second place and John Gosden’s Stradivarius in third.
After the race O’Brien was quick to hint that a return to a shorter trip was on the cards for Capri. “A mile and a half is where he’ll really show his ability. He’s also got courage and stamina. It was a great performance.” He was also not ruling out an attempt at the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe next month: “The Arc is something we’ll think about for him, but the lads will make that decision.”
This was O’Brien’s fifth St Leger win but the first for Ryan Moore who looked delighted as he came in to the winner’s enclosure. He was also keen to look forward to the colt’s next race and when asked about the Arc he thought Capri would have a live chance but sounded a note of caution. “There’s one exceptional filly but apart from that it’s an open Arc”, he suggested, his mind clearly already puzzling about whether and how he might manage to overturn the hot Arc favourite Enable.